Sunday, 25 October 2015

DVD Review: Chris Jericho: The Road is Jericho

He was the first Undisputed Champion in WWE history. He's also an international rock star, a best selling author, and he'll probably go into the Hall of Fame. Now we're going to take a look at WWE's most recent DVD tribute to Y2J himself, Chris Jericho. The DVD in question is The Road is Jericho.

The premise for this release is simple. Having played a concert with his band Fozzy our man gets into a limousine for the drive to their next concert. Along the way he discusses the matches on this collection, but instead of joining us as a viewer he talks about the matches from memory, sharing his thoughts during the journey.

So now you know how this thing works let's start right at the beginning with.....

Disc One
June 22nd, 1996
We begin our collection in ECW as our man challenges Francine guy Pitbull #2 for the World TV title at Hardcore Heaven.

In essence this is your typical speed versus power battle, and it's a nice way to kick things off. Pitbull basically threw Jericho around the ring like the proverbial stuffed toy early on before the Lionheart realised that it was better to take his man down with speed instead of trying to trade blows with him.

Needless to say that the big guy soon regains control and comes close to retaining his title on numerous occasions before we get a cameo from Shane Douglas, who tried it on with the lovely Francine. Sadly for the Franchise his advances come to nothing, although the fracas leads to the Pitbull accidentally clotheslining his own manager before Jericho takes out Douglas with a suicide dive.

The match resumes when the injured Pitbull #1 carries Francine backstage, and while Douglas tries to steal the TV title belt from the officials the two combatants trade pinfall attempts until Jericho takes his man down with a hurricanrana from the top rope. A three count later and the title-winning pin is his.

This doesn't sit too well with Douglas, and after Pitbull gets the title belt back from him he hands it to Jericho before raising his arm in victory.

July 13th, 1997
It's on to WCW as our man defends his Cruiserweight title against Ultimo Dragon at Bash at the Beach.

This was a great example of just why the cruiserweight division was rated so highly back then. It's a match packed with tremendous back and forth action with both guys looking in top form throughout.

It's kind of hard to pick out any one particular moment because there was so many of them. The in-ring exchanges were excellent, the sequences around ringside were top notch, and the storytelling was perfect.

As for the finish, it was so fast-paced I had to watch it three times before I realised exactly what had happened. Jericho went for a tiger driver, which Dragon countered with a hurricanrana. However, as Dragon rolled through Jericho countered him with a roll-up for the title-retaining pin.

March 15th, 1998
The Cruiserweight title is on the line once again as our man faces the challenge of Dean Malenko at Uncensored.

These two may have been like chalk and cheese character-wise but they had such great chemistry in the ring. Mind you, Dean Malenko could have had great chemistry with a broom handle if he'd ever been booked in a match against one.

This was a somewhat more sedate affair compared to the previous match. Although it had it's fair share of high spots this one was more about the holds. Once again both guys put in great performances, especially Jericho, who seemed much more assured as the cocky heel than he was as the generic babyface.

So after over fifteen minutes of hold and counter hold Jericho finally managed to put Malenko in the lion tamer, and although Malenko managed to get to the ropes Jericho dragged him back into the ring, where he had no choice but to tap out to give Jericho the submission win.

October 22nd, 2000
Over in WWE territory our man goes up against X-Pac in a steel cage match at No Mercy.

In a way you could say this was a mentor versus student kind of match up. In the segment before the match Jericho spoke of his difficulties when he first joined WWE, and of how X-Pac was given the task of working as his agent, not just in the matches they had against each other but for all of Jericho's matches.

This led to what could be described as a pretty sweet encounter. It began with Jericho taking his man out with a baseball slide as he tried to enter the cage, and after a brief brawl around ringside they made their way into the structure where they put together some nice sequences.

Amongst the obligatory crotching on ropes and throws into the fence the first OMG moment came when Jericho stopped Pac from escaping the cage by taking him down with a top rope powerbomb. The second came when Pac was attempting another mistake. This time around Jericho locked in the Walls on top of the cage, until a timely kick from Pac sent him flying and crashing to the mat.

The ending was also one of the highlights. Having survived Jericho's submission attempt Pac began to climb down the cage, at one point standing on top of the open door. It was then that Jericho dropkicked him through the fence, crotching him on top of the door so Jericho could make his escape and take the win. Nice stuff there.

December 10th, 2000
It's on to Armageddon, where our man faces Kane in a last man standing match.

This was the infamous feud that began when Jericho spilt a cup of hot coffee over Kane. Eventually things got so heated between these two that Jericho asked for this match. It was a request that Commissioner Mick Foley was happy to grant.

The match itself is your proverbial knock-down you know what kind of affair, beginning when Kane attacked Jericho as he made his entrance. A brief backstage brawl followed with Mideon making a cameo appearance before they made it back into the arena and kicked the proverbial out of each other a little more.

But as the old story goes no matter what Kane did to him Jericho kept beating the count and coming back for more, and even though Jericho got in his fair share of offence it was more or less the same for him.

The action went back out to ringside when Kane press slammed Jericho over the top rope. Their brawl took them to the entrance set, and after Jericho connected with two bulldogs on a table he pushed over a stack of metal barrels onto the fallen monster. The referee began his count, but didn't see Kane's arm poking through the barrels. Jericho quickly kicked it away as the count reached it's conclusion to give him the win.

June 4th, 2001
With Mick Foley as the special outside referee our man challenges Steve Austin for the WWE title on Raw.

By this time Jericho was co-holder of the Tag Team titles with that other Canadian guy who nobody mentions anymore, while Austin was the hated heel, having sold his soul to Vince McMahon for the WWF title. He was also mad at Jericho and that other Canadian guy for beating him and his partner Triple H for those tag titles.

So what followed was a very dramatic affair, with lots of underhanded stuff from Austin, with Jericho returning the favour as far as low blows go. There were also a few moments with Foley when the former commissioner threw the reluctant Austin back into the ring.

The all hell breaking loose moments came after Austin ducked out of the way and Jericho flew into the referee, and when Jericho put Austin in the Walls Commissioner William Regal raced down to the ring and stopped Foley from carrying out his duties. A brawl at ringside quickly broke out involving Jericho, Foley and Regal, and after a stray chair shot from Foley sent Jericho into la-la land Regal pushed him back into the ring. But when that wasn't enough for Austin to get the pin a stunner followed as the champion finally took the win.

Jericho and Foley had the last laugh though, with Regal ending up in the Walls while Foley applied Mr. Socko in the middle of the ring.

July 16th, 2001
It's the early days of the Invasion as our man challenges Booker T for the WCW title on Raw.

This short and sweet television encounter certainly had a lot going for it. It also showed that early on the WCW Invasion was filled with drama and tension. A shame they couldn't keep that momentum going though.

These two put together some nice sequences throughout this one, with Booker being helped along the way by WCW head honcho Shane McMahon at ringside and crooked WCW referee Nick Patrick. This was never the more evident than when Jericho took Booker down with a missile dropkick, only for Patrick to claim that he'd injured his shoulder while counting the pin.

A few moments later Jericho put Booker in the walls. It was then that Patrick claimed to have injured his knee as well, until WWE referee and future TNA Hall of Famer Earl Hebner came down to the ring and clobbered him from behind. Old Earl then took over as the referee, but when Booker tapped out McMahon stopped him from stopping the match with a good old fashioned right hand. Booker then connected with a low blow, and after a fast count from Patrick Booker had retained his title.

Disc Two
November 3rd, 2001
Our man is now the WCW Champion, and a trip to merry old England sees him defending his title against the Alliance's Kurt Angle at Rebellion.

Now this was a pretty decent match. Mind you, with these two in it you wouldn't expect anything less.

Both guys put in great stints here despite the fact that they were suffering from jet lag. Jericho looked great early on until Angle took control. The Olympic hero seemed to be revelling in his role as the traitorous turncoat, but then again some of his best work has come when he's been on the darker side of the fence.

Jericho's comeback included giving Angle a taste of his own medicine when he synched in an ankle lock. Angle managed to survive this particular move, but later on when he went for his patented Angle slam Jericho countered with a sunset flip and roll-up for the title-retaining pin.

Angle was none too pleased with the manner of his defeat though, and after attacking the celebrating champion from behind he took him down with two Angle slams to leave him laying in the ring.

January 20th, 2002
Having become the first ever Undisputed Champion, our man now faces the first man he beat on that historical night when he defends his titles against the Rock at the Royal Rumble.

This was a heated affair to say the least. It was also brilliantly executed throughout, with both combatants and the peripheral players putting in excellent performances.

The chemistry these two had was amazing. Jericho was at his best as the heinous heel champion, while the Rock was, well, the Rock, the most electrifying man and all that. These two elements made this match, and were the reason why the crowd were just so electric throughout.

It had everything. Both guys looking great whenever they took control, a big brawl around ringside which saw Rock putting Jericho through the announcer's table with a rock bottom, a brief cameo from Lance Storm and Christian when they distracted the referee while Jericho was tapping out to the Rock's sharpshooter, and a crooked referee in the form of Nick Patrick, who refused to count the Rock's pin while old Earl Hebner was taking forty winks.

The finish featured three examples of the classic wrestling villain. Jericho's first move was to connect with a low blow. He then followed up by ramming Rock's head into an exposed turnbuckle, and to finish things off, he rolled his challenger up with his feet on the ropes as the groggy Hebner made the count.

April 25th, 2002
It's the early days of the brand extension, and our man takes on the man who took his titles away from him when he faces Triple H on Smackdown, with a shot at Hulk Hogan's Undisputed Title up for grabs. (Am I allowed to mention Hogan's name in this?)

Remember what I said about heated battles? Well, this one was right up there as far as heat goes as these two old rivals battled it out for a shot at the gold. It was one of those knock-down, drag-out kind of affairs as they beat the hell out of each other, with the Game angry at the way the Undertaker had cost him the title a few days before at Backlash, and Y2J angry that he wasn't even on that show.

There were countless near finishes as both men went close to getting the win, but just when it looked like Trips was going to put Jericho away with the pedigree the aforementioned Undertaker hopped the barrier and jumped onto the ring apron. Trips sent him packing with a right hand, but this left him wide open as Jericho rolled him up for the three count and win.

That wasn't the end of things though, as Jericho joined the chairman of Dead Man, Inc in attacking Trips until Hogan ran in for the save before brawling with the Undertaker through the crowd.

February 10th, 2003
Over on Raw, our man faces the Charismatic Enigma himself, Jeff Hardy.

Well, this certainly was an interesting one. Although it was by no means the best match in this collection it was okay, a short little ten minute affair in which both men got to show their wares as it were, but there were a couple of things that seemed a little off.

Hardy was looking for a big win at this point in his career, and having failed to bear Shawn Michaels the week before he was looking to get back in the groove with a win over Jericho. Sadly for Mr. Hardy Jericho looked in good form, and when it looked as if Hardy was going to take the win after a swanton from the top rope Jericho escaped defeat by putting his foot on the bottom rope.

Hardy's downfall came a few moments later when he went for a hurricanrana. Jericho countered with the Walls, and when Hardy tried to get to the ropes Jericho dragged him back to the middle of the ring. Hardy had no choice but to tap out to give Jericho the submission win.

March 7th, 2005
A couple of years later on Raw, our man goes up against the Rated-R Superstar himself, Edge.

Jericho was on a roll by this point, having put forward his idea for the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match, an idea that Raw General Manager was only too happy to give his blessing to.

As for the match it was a pretty decent affair. Edge was in the early days of his obsession with the World title, an obsession that brought out his nasty side. It didn't help him early on though as Jericho worked over the arm he'd injured the previous week in a street fight with Shawn Michaels.

The match moved along nicely as Edge took control, but when an accidental clash of heads between Jericho and the referee sent the official into la-la land Edge sought to take advantage of the situation by using the ladder that had been placed at ringside to signify their participation in the upcoming MITB match, and while his first attempt failed his second worked like a charm when he hit Jericho below the belt. An impaler DDT later, and the groggy referee counted Edge's winning pin.

November 10th, 2008
Two days after my 37th birthday our man, now World Champion, takes a trip to London for a last man standing match against Shawn Michaels.

This proverbial slobber-knocker was one of the highlights in their long-standing rivalry. Michaels looked as if he wanted to get this over with quickly, but when he crashed and burned into Jericho's knees off a top rope elbow attempt the tide turned pretty quickly.

Their battle eventually led them up the ramp and to the stage where we got the rather unique site of Michaels catapulting Jericho into a quite flimsy-looking pillar box before Jericho put Michaels into the walls on the roof of a black London taxi cab.

A trip through the crowd saw them returning to ringside where a ladder came into play, and it wasn't long before Michaels gave us the OMG moment of the match when he climbed to the top of the ladder and put Jericho through the announcer's table.

As the tension mounted John "Bradshaw" Layfield came into the equation when his initial attempt at interference failed, but just when it looked like Michaels had sealed the deal when he connected with sweet chin music JBL came back and clobbered Michaels with a chair. Both men were down as the referee began his count, and it looked like this was going to end up as a draw until Jericho barely made it to his feet, and with Michaels still down when the referee reached the ten the victory went to Jericho.

Disc Three
December 29th, 2008
It's a Raw after the show dark match as out man challenges John Cena for the World title in a street fight.

This is actually the first time I've ever seen a Raw dark match (although I've got a whole DVD set of them to watch at some point), and as Jericho explained in the segment before this one these affairs are somewhat different to what you get on television. Unhindered by time constraints they give the wrestlers a little more leeway as it were.

The match itself is a short and simple affair. Cena controlled the opening moments until Jericho catapulted him into an exposed turnbuckle. There's a brief moment of ringside action with Jericho slapping Cena's old man at one point, but needless to say that the champion soon made his comeback and took his man down with the attitude adjuster for the title-retaining win.

June 28th, 2009
Our man is Intercontinental Champion once again as he faces the challenge of Rey Mysterio in a title versus mask match at The Bash.

One of the things that can make a wrestling match great is the story behind it, and these two had a great reason to go at it. Jericho had promised to unmask Mysterio for good, having done so the previous month at Extreme Rules when he beat Mysterio for the title, and when Mysterio wanted his re-match Jericho only agreed if Mysterio put his mask on the line as well.

So with that back-story in place these two put on a tremendous match, and it's easy to see why Jericho names Mysterio as one of his favourite opponents. It's an enthralling back and forth encounter with both men putting in five star performances.

It really was one of those matches you couldn't take your eyes off for fear of missing one of the twists and turns as they threw everything they had at each other. Indeed, it was one of those twists that led to the finish.

Jericho had targeted Mysterio's mask several times during the match, and during a fast exchange of moves in the champion had finally achieved his aim. But as he looked at his prize he failed to see that Mysterio was wearing a second mask. An enziguri to the back of Jericho's head set him up perfectly for the 619/big splash combination, and a three count later meant that Mysterio had regained the title.

November 16th, 2009
Our man is now one half of the Undisputed Tag Team Champions along with the Big show as they face Shawn Michaels and Triple H of D-Generation X and the team of WWE Champion John Cena & World Champion the Undertaker in a triple threat match on Raw.

This was a little taster for the Survivor Series a few days later, Trips and Michaels were challenging Cena for the WWE title while the Dead Man was defending his World title against Jeri-Show.

Now when I saw that this match wasn't scheduled to last that long I was a little disappointed, but that disappointment soon went away because of the fast and furious nature of this match. It certainly was jam-packed with action, and they certainly put a lot in in such a short space of time, so much so that everything they did made perfect sense.

Needless to say that the all hell breaking loose segment came early on, and it wasn't long before all six men were involved, but at the end of the day it was Cena who came out on top for his team, taking Trips down with the attitude adjuster for the winning pin.

Cena was in for a shock though. The Undertaker wasn't too pleased that Cena had tagged himself in earlier in the match, and just as Cena was celebrating the Dead Man came back into the ring and took him down with a tombstone in an attempt to show his dominance over his fellow champion.

April 29th, 2012
Our man goes for the gold once more as he challenges C.M. Punk for the WWE title in a Chicago street fight at Extreme Rules.

This most personal of feuds brought out the best in these two, and this match was the highlight of the entire thing, another knock-down, drag-out affair in which both champion and challenger beat the living daylights out of each other.

Jericho was at his best as the cocky heel here, while Punk was, well, Punk. At the time he really was the best in the world, especially when he was competing in front of his hometown crowd.

So for well over twenty minutes these two hit each other from pillar to post and with anything they could get their hands on. There were some great twists and turns here, the best of the bunch being when Punk countered the walls of Jericho by setting off a fire extinguisher in his challenger's face.

The OMG moment came a few moments later when Jericho, staggered after a couple of shots to the ribs from the aforementioned fire extinguisher, was dazed and laying on the Spanish announcer's table. Punk them climbed to the top rope and flew from ring to table, connecting with a flying elbow drop.

And that wasn't the end of the brutality. These two managed to beat even more hell out of each other, including when Jericho took Punk down with a chair-assisted code breaker. But when he tried to use Punk's own GTS against him the champion countered by catapulting him into an exposed turnbuckle pad before taking him out with the GTS himself for the title-retaining pin.

July 15th, 2013
Over on Raw, our man welcomes Rob Van Dam back to Monday nights.

Now this wasn't your usual quick over in a couple of minutes television-style match, because just before these two went out a change in the schedule meant that another eight minutes was added to the match.

How did these two cope with the extra time they were given at such short notice? Pretty well in fact. It was a nicely-paced match with some great sequences throughout. I've know I've said it about a million times before but this RVD looked a hell of a lot better than the RVD we saw in TNA. Everything he did just seemed so much better. Oh, and Jericho wasn't too bad either.

So after nearly twenty minutes of great action RVD rolled back the years and took Jericho out with the five star frog splash for the winning pin. Nice work all round.

September 8th, 2014
Our man goes up against one of his most fierce opponents when he faces Bray Wyatt in a steel cage match on Raw.

The rubber match in their series proved to be a great show opener for the "season premiere" of Raw. They continued right where they'd left off previously as far as the action was concerned. Once again it was a perfectly-paced match, with plenty of flesh on fence action, and Wyatt creeping it up as only he can.

Of course, with this being a cage match there had to be that one big OMG moment, and that came from Jericho, because just when it looked like he was about to get the win by climbing over the top of the cage he found his patch blocked by Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. So after climbing back to the top he gave us that "what the hell!" gesture before flying off the top of the cage and taking Wyatt out with a cross body.

The only problem with that though was that he injured his knee when he landed, which resulted in the extremely heated exchange at the end as both men tried to escape through the door. Each man delivered numerous blows and elbows until Wyatt finally managed to climb over Jericho so he could reach the floor and claim the win.

Wyatt's work was far from done though. After smashing the cage door into Jericho's bad wheel he pushed him back into the ring, rubbing salt into the wound when he took him down with sister Abigail.

September 21st, 2014
It's the final match of the collection as our man goes up against Randy Orton at Night of Champions.

I have to admit that back then an Orton/Jericho match wasn't exactly too appealing to me. But this was a pretty decent affair between two veterans who really know their craft.

For me this is another example of how Orton is a lot better as a vile heel than as a beloved babyface. Just looking at his mannerisms you know he has evil intentions on his mind, and for that to work you need a highly believable foil, which Jericho played perfectly.

The end was one of those RKO out of nowhere moments. Having failed to put his man away with the code breaker Jericho decided to try his luck from the top rope. But when he came down Orton connected with the RKO for the winning pin.

In conclusion - after nearly seven hours of footage and several thousand words later we've finally reached the end of this collection, and I have to say that I was pretty impressed.

This collection shows us once more that Chris Jericho is one of the greatest wrestlers of the past twenty years. He's capable of putting on great matches against a variety of opponents, from high flyers like Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio to icons like Steve Austin and the Rock, and to today's top stars like Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. Put him in with any man, any style, and you're guaranteed a good showing.

But perhaps the most difficult thing about this review is that with so many great matches here it's kind of hard to pick a favourite, which is one of the reasons I don't give the proverbial match of the night prize out with these collections.

So now we've reached the end there's just one more thing to do, and that's to give this collection the big thumbs up.

With thanks to Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. Chris Jericho: The Road is Jericho is available to buy online at www.wwedvd.co.uk.